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Pro-tem Speaker row: Rijiju meets TMC's Sudip Bandyopadhyay ; opposition firm on staying away from panel of chairpersons

Rijiju's meeting with Bandyopadhyay came against the backdrop of the opposition alliance's decision to pull out its members from the panel of chairpersons that will assist Mahtab in conducting the proceedings of the Lok Sabha till the election of the Speaker on Wednesday.
Last Updated : 23 June 2024, 16:22 IST

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New Delhi: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju on Sunday reached out to Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay on the eve of the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha, amid a face-off with the opposition I.N.D.I.A. bloc over the appointment of BJP leader Bhartuhari Mahtab as the Pro-tem Speaker.

Rijiju's meeting with Bandyopadhyay came against the backdrop of the opposition alliance's decision to pull out its members from the panel of chairpersons that will assist Mahtab in conducting the proceedings of the Lok Sabha till the election of the Speaker on Wednesday.

Bandyopadhyay, who was among the three opposition members named to the panel of chairpersons in the Lok Sabha, told Rijiju that he would be unable to join the panel and stuck with the decision taken by the I.N.D.I.A. bloc.

"Met Sudip Bandyopadhyayji, leader of All India Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party. Sudip da has a long-standing Parliamentary career and he is known for his calm and dignified conduct in the Parliament. The 18th Lok Sabha will hugely benefit from his experiences," Rijiju said on X.

Earlier, President Droupadi Murmu had appointed Mahtab, a seven-term Lok Sabha member from Cuttack, as the Pro-tem Speaker.

The President had also named Kodikunnil Suresh (Congress), T R Baalu (DMK), Radha Mohan Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste (both BJP) and Bandyopadhyay to the panel of chairpersons to assist Mahtab.

The Congress had taken objection to Mahtab's appointment, contending that the claim of eight-term member Suresh, a Dalit leader, was overlooked. The I.N.D.I.A. bloc has said opposition leaders Suresh, Baalu and Bandopadhyay will not join the panel of chairpersons as a mark of protest.

Rijiju has asserted that Mahtab has had seven uninterrupted terms as a Lok Sabha member, making him eligible for the post, while Suresh lost elections in 1998 and 2004 which makes his current term the fourth straight one in the lower house. Earlier, he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1999.

The Congress kept up the attack on the BJP on Sunday with senior leader Jairam Ramesh terming the ruling party as anti-Dalit.

"If this argument is adopted, then why has Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, a BJP MP who is also in his seventh consecutive term, not been considered? Is it because he is a Dalit like Suresh," Ramesh, the AICC General Secretary incharge of Communications, posted on X.

BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla responded to the post, saying the Congress should make Suresh the Leader of Opposition.

"If you are so concerned about the political career of Shri Kodikunnil Suresh, I would urge you to make him the Leader of the Opposition and the CM face of the UDF for the 2026 Kerala elections. Why stress so much for a temporary position?" he said on X.

The BJP spokesperson also said that the majority of the victims in the Tamil Nadu hooch tragedy were from Scheduled Castes and the Congress should ensure justice for them too.

"Also majority of those 56 who died in Kallakurichi in the illicit hooch tragedy are from the SC community! How about some Nyay for them by asking MK Stalin ji to sack his excise minister," he said.

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Published 23 June 2024, 16:22 IST

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